Saturday, March 16, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 9

A beautiful last day

As you can see in this picture taken from the fourth floor of the Hilton, the weather on the last full day of SxSW was fan-fucking-tastic.

View from Hilton Patio on 4th Floor

CLE: The Politics of Music and Future Copyright Battles

I sat through this panel wishing that Sandy Pearlman (Dr. Doom) had been present. Some of these people needed some sense slapped into them.

Canzoniere Grecanico Solentino

Walking by the stage in the convention center, I heard this wonderful band. They were from Italy and were playing some sort of folk music. The singing was partially polyphonic, and some of the stringed instruments were playing quarter tones.

My ears perked up, and I listened for a while. I found them very enjoyable, my non-musician friends would probably not agree.

Canzoniere Grecanico Solentino

So We Won SOPA

A frank discussion about what is next on the SOPA battlefront. There was an EFF lawyer on the panel. She convinced me that there is still a glimmer of hope. We can hold off the continual advances being attempted by old Turkey-neck, Chris Dodd, and his cohorts at the MPAA and RIAA.

So We Won SOPA

Good Ol' Freda

As the movie synopsis said, The Beatles were together for 10 years, Freda Kelly was their secretary for 11 years. A truely unique documentary, Freda Kelly has broken her silence after 50 years, and has the full support of the two remaining Beatles, Paul and Ringo.

This film documentary has some astounding footage of the Beatles.

Cello Fury

Heading over to St. David's, the first band of the night was a trio of cellists and a drummer from Pittsburgh. Imagine Metallica with this instrumentation, and you'll get the basic idea.

Cello Fury

Here's a video of them playing:

Paul McDonald & Nikki Reed

Heading over to the Sanctuary at St. David's I caught what is apparently the new Hollywood Power Couple. It was well done, but they have invoked martial law in this room with respect to taking pictures.

George Clinton and Parliament

This was my main mission for the night. The venue was an old auto garage. I was secretly holding out hope that George Clinton would somehow get Bootsy and Bernie Worrell on stage with him, for a complete P-Funk reunion. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Have no fear, they still gave up the Funk!

George Clinton

Friday, March 15, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 8

Conversation: Bootsy Collins and Chuck D

What better way to start off the morning than an interview with Bootsy Collins? The man played with James Brown and George Clinton, what else do you need to know?

Bootsie Collins interviewed by Chuch D

Interview: The Zombies

The next panel was an interview with 2 more legends, Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, about their band, the Zombies. In hindsigt, I really regret was not getting over to their showcase.

Zombies Interview

Iron and Wine

After two excellent interviews, I cruised by the day stage and caught a great singer-songwriter act, Iron and Wine.

Iron and Wine


Walking over to the International Stage, I caught a few songs from an excellent Argentinian band, Pulenta.


APIs: How Do We Foster and Support Competition In A Highly Competitive Sandbox

I wish I could say I heard some encouraging things at this panel. It seems however, that the music industry remains at an impasse.



Back to the day stage for a pop band with a Retro sound, and some very good keyboard work. They were from Seattle and were called Pickwick.


Shout Out Out Out Out

I didn't get to see Savage, a band recommended by Sound Opinion's, Jim DeRegotis. However, he also recommended this band, and their homage to Kraftwerk, among others.

Shout Out Out Out Out

Berklee Party

I stopped briefly by Brush Creek Park tent to catch some of the Berklee School of Music Party.

Brushy Creek Party

Twenty Feet from Stardom

This day went by fast, but it didn't matter, because it led up to the best Film of SxSW for me, as well as one of the finest musical experiences. Twenty Feet from Stardom is an unbelievably good film. Strangely, the Paramount was only 3 quarters full, but the people behind said, to trust them, something very wonderful was going to happen after the screening.

In a nutshell, this film follows the history and careers of several acclaimed backup singers. As the movie progresses, you realize that you have heard every singer in the film, and they have appeared on your favorite songs.

During the documentary, one of the singers noted that Most people sing along with the backup singers, when they sing along to their favorite songs. So true!

Twenty Feet From Stardom

After the screening was over, two of the stars of the film performed on stage at the Paramount. All I can say is that Judith Hill and Darlene Love knocked the audience on their collective asses. The took us in a musical rapture.

Judith Hill

Judith Hill

Darlene Love

Darlene Love

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside

Leaving the Paramount, I walked over to Antones to check it out for the first time during SxSW. Normally, I would have dug a roots rock effort like Sallie Ford and the Outside. However, I was still recovering from Judith Hill and Darlene Love.

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outsdie

Charlie Mars

I decided to close out the night at the Central Presbyterian Church, another great listening venue. I had heard Charlie Mars last year at the same venue. I enjoyed him then, and this time.

Natalie Maines with Ben Harper

Staying put, I didn't realize at first that it was Natalie Maines (of Dixie Chicks fame), because she had her hair cut short and dyed black. She was joined on stage by a very good male singer, who also played lap steel guitar. It turned out that it was Ben Harper.

The set was a eclectic mix of things with a strong Americana feel. One of the highlights was her cover of Pink Floyd's, Mother, from the Wall. The other highlight was her being joined on stage by her father Lloyd Maines, pedal steel player extraordinaire.

I guess I lucked out on this venue choice.

Natalie Maines

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 7

Black Violin

On the way into Ballroom D, for Dave Grohl's Keynote Speech, there was an amazing band playing called Black Violin. The core of the band is a violin and viola player from South Florida. When they finished, the entire packed Ballroom gave them a standing ovation.

Later in the week, I actually got to speak to the leader of the group, "Kev Marcus" Sylvester, and found out they went to the U. They are a very talented group, and I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from them, in the future.

Black Violin

Dave Grohl Keynote Speech

Unlike Bruce last year, the main take away from this speech that I got was that Grohl still approaches music with same sense of wonderment and awe, that he did before he wss famous. Needless to say, I left the Ballroom wanting to make music again.

Dave Grohl

In Your Dreams - Stevie Nicks

This was the first stinker for a music documentary. I went into this screening expecting to see a documentary about Stevie's life, and showing intimate details of her creative process.

Instead, this film was a 1980's MTV video, a promotion for selling her latest album. Nothing felt real in this film, most scenes seemed staged and contrived. I was really annoyed by this to be honest, and expected more. (Perhaps if I hadn't already seen Muscle Shoals, Sound City and the Punk Singer, my expectations would have been lower).

In Your Dreams - Stevie Nicks

In Your Dream Trailer


While over in the Convention Center, I stopped by the Day Stage and caught a fairly good, Pop band from Dublin, Ireland, Delorentos.


Stevie Nicks Interview

Just to give things a fair shake, after a sub-par film, I decided to go to Stevie's Interview. This was a bit better, but I still couldn't shake the feeling that all of the questions had been approved by her publicist, beforehand.

Stevie Nicks Interview

Before There Was Punk There Was A Band Called Death

I was glad to put things back on track, with another excellent music documentary. I have been aware of Death for several years, and actually had their album. The story of the rediscovery of this band is amazing, and just adds to the legend.


Ray Wylie Hubbard

Randomly walking into the Stage on Sixth, I just happend to find Ray Wylie Hubbard. Typically, I try to avoid local acts, but Ray was mowing them down on this occasion, so I stayed.

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Jason Monseur's band at the Dogwood

Walking west down 6th street, I headed towards the Dogwood, a non-official SxSW venue, to see a friend from Atlanta, from the TOAPP Camp, Jason Monseur, who was playing drum with his band. They played a set of Electronic dance music that was very solid. Unfortunately, the entire card at the Dogwood was running an hour late, so I couldn't stay for Jason's whole set.

Prior to Jason's band, there was another band, Skin, that was very good. I was really taken with their bas player, a young African-American woman that played her Fender Precision Bass in a manner reminiscent of Daryl Jones. She was a bad ass.

Jason Monseur


During the documentary screening, it was announced that Death would be performin at the 10Oaks. This was obviously something that I couldn't miss, so I ended the night at their gig.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 6

Panel: Top Ten Web Music Companies of 2013

This was my first music panel of 2013. I wanted to hear about something fresh and new. Unfortunately, I really didn't. The Music Industry is still lost and wondering in the desert.

The Top Ten Web Music Companies of 2013

Finding the Funk

Another great music documentary. It has Sly, George Clinton, Bootsie Collins, and Bernie Worrell. Parliament, Funkadelic, and the Ohio Players all in one movie! Need I say more?

I defy anyone to go see this movie, and try to not tap their feet. It isn't possible.

Finding the Funk

Finding the Funk Trailer

Canadian Music Party

After the movie, I made my way back to the Convention Center area, and checked out the Canadian Music Party in the Brush Creek park.

Canadian Music Party

Canadian Party

Nick Lowe Panel

Heading inside, I caught a panel with included Ron Sexsmith, Kathy Valentine, and Chris Stamey about the music of Nick Lowe. What made this extra special, was that each artist got up and played their favorite Nick Lowe song. Just heavenly.

In the photo below, you can see Ron Sexsmith taking his shot, at the mic.

Nick Lowe Panel

Depeche Mode Interview

I had pencilled this interview in, on my schedule in advance. It was what I expected. I was hoping I would have a stroke of luck, and also win the lottery for the small show they were putting on in the Brazos theater, on Friday.

I found the band to be surprisingly unpretentious and very accessible, as did the rest of the crowd, I'm fairly sure.

Depeche Mode

Sound City

Another fantastic documentary, about another legendary recording studio. This time it was Sound City, in Van Nuys, CA with its legendary Neve Console.

I'll be honest, I was never a Nirvana fan. However, after seeing Dave Grohl multiple times, I have a new found respect for him. He gets it, and only someone who got it would have been able to produce a film like this. I would love to have a beer or two with him some time.

Let me just say that all of these documentaries about recording studios has really gotten my creative juices flowing again.

Dave Grohl discusses his film

Sound City Trailer

Olafur Arnalds

After leaving the Paramount for the Sound City screening, I headed towards my favorite showcase venue, St. David's Bethel Hall, a fantastic listening room. When I arrived, there was a 3 piece ensemble (piano, violin, and cello). Their original compositions mixed chamber music with some atmospheric electronic music

I found the harmonic rhythm of this music to be painfully slow. Given my sleep deprived state, had some difficulty, staying awake during their performance.

Olafur Arnalds

A.J. Croce

The next act at Bethel was fantastic, it was Jim Croce's son. A.J. Croce is a singer songwriter par excellence, with an outstanding voice, and impressive chops on both piano and guitar.

They say the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Well, in this case, the apple is right next to the trunk. During the set A.J. performed his father's song, Operator. As A.J. performed, it seemed as though Jim had crawled out of the grave, and was standing there. My friends all commented that the experience gave them goosebumps.

Summing this showcase up in one word, it would be, Wow!

A. J. Croce

Chris Stamey and Tosca Strings

Former Alex Chilton collaborator and Southern alt-pop, godfather, Chris Stamey, had the last set at the Bethel, with the Tosca String quartet. This was a very enjoyable set of music, and was the perfect material for this room.

Chris Stamey with Tosca Strings

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 5

Muscle Shoals

This documentary was one of the best of the festival. It was about the now legendary music town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The film covers recording pioneer, Rick Hall and his FAME Studios, along with the house band, the Swampers, who eventually split to form the rival, Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. I was already aware of the significance of the place, but had no idea, how many bands, hits songs, and Gold and Platinum albums, had been recorded at these two studios. It was staggering.

Having watched several of these documentaries, I am convinced that I need a bucket list item, to go on a pilgrimage and try to visit the original sites of Motown Records in Detroit, Sun Records and Stax in Memphis, Buddy Holly's place in Lubbock, TX, and of course these two studios in Muscle Shoals.

Muscle Shoals

Muscle Shoals Trailer

Seeing my brother off

Since Tuesday is the last day of Interactive, I spent some time having a final lunch with my brother and some of his co-workers from Ohio, before seeing him off to the airport.

Last Lunch of SxSWi


Medora, Indiana, was once a booming rural town, with a thriving middle class, and an independent, high school. Things have changed recently, and economic conditions have decimated this town.

This film picks up, with Medora's once formidable, high school basketball team in the middle of a multiple year, losing streak. They follow several of the team members through an entire season, where against all odds, they actually managed to turn things around, and win two games.

What was really nice, is that the directors brought one of the team members with them to SxSW, and they were available afterwards, for Q&A. Anyone who manages to see this movie, will be affected by it, in a positive way.


We Cause Scenes

The last film of the day for me, was about Improv Everywhere, a small gang of comedians and pranksters, who became an internationally recognized prank collective. The documentary covers their history, and shows some of their more recent flash mob style stunts.

My favorite stunt was them setting up as a 4 piece band and impersonating the band U2, from a rooftop across the street from Madison Square Garden (where U2 was playing that night). A casual listen to band, quickly revealed that it was not really U2, however, many of the people on the street went along with the gag, finding it funny. Not everyone in NYC is so light hearted, so someone eventually called NYPD to shut it down.

Monday, March 11, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 4

Stephen Wolfram

Wolfram gave a talk on the future of Computation. It was similar in content to one of his TED talks. I find him to be a very engaging speaker, and felt he did a good job of holding the audiences attention, unlike the NASA presentation.

Stephen Wolfram

Rewind This

This was an outstanding documentary about the history of Video Tape. It's hard to believe that several decades have passed, since video tape's heyday.

I found it particularly humorous to realize that very little has changed. The MPAA and their affiliated content producers were as afraid of the video tape back then, as they are the Internet, today.

Computer Chess

The next film of the day was Computer Chess. It was a local effort, made here in Austin. I really didn't enjoy the film, its low budget charm was not able to compensate for a multitude of problems.

Computer Chess


The next film on my schedule was an exceptional, biographical, documentary about world renown physicist, Stephen Hawking. This was a remarkable film about a remarkable man.

The Infamous Grumpy Cat

Unbeknownst to me, Grumpy Cat was one of the big stories from SxSW in the press. As I was walking down 6th Street, I noticed this rear projection in a two story bay window, above what used to be the SoHo.

The infamous grumpy cat


The main character in this movie, is a musical savant, named Jim, who had experience severe abuse and trama as a child. Now an adult, he appears to have his mental health issues under control, but becomes obsessed with a young social worker, Wendy.

Things slowly begin to spin out of control, but there are several unexpected plot twists before it is all over. Snap is a dark, but interesting film, and is well made.

Snap Q&A

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SxSW 2013 - Day 3

Sixth Street in the Morning

As walked over to the Paramount from the Convention Center, I took this picture of Sixth Street. I am always amazed to see it cleaned up every morning, given the condition I had witnessed it in, the previous night.

6th Street in the morning


The first film of the day was Mud. A narrative set in the Ozarks, starring Matthew McConaughey as the main protagonist, Mud, a murderer who is on the lam and hiding from bounty hunters, on a small river island. He is discovered by two local teenage boys, who are drawn into to his problems. I can't say too much more, without giving away the whole movie.

I felt the film did a good job of bringing the viewer in this Ozark culture, and surroundings, and the acting was very good. I wasn't as sold on the actual story, and felt that some aspects of the plot seemed somewhat unbelievable.

None the less, I would recommend this film to others.


Mud Trailer

Awful Nice

In hindsight, I could have skipped this movie. It was bad! It was supposed be about sibling rivalry between two brothers, with a healthy dose of physical comedy. I didn't find it very funny, and didn't take away anything from the viewing.

There was no trailer available, so that why I didn't post one. Just as well.


At last year's SxSW, I saw Alex Winter, Sean Parker, and Shawn Fanning discuss the production of this documentary about Napster. It was nice to see the finished product, and equally cool that all 3 returned this year.

This film was fantastic, and I could easily watch it again. You should go see it, if you can.


Downloaded Trailer

The Punk Singer

This was another excellent music documentary, about Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the band Bikini Kill, a seminal band in the Riot Girl movement. It was funded by Kickstarter, which I was happy to see.

This was a well made documentary, and succeeds in drawing you into Kathleen's life, even if you don't enjoy her music or agree with her politics.

Kickstarter Preview